Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott is on record where he said the Bible, when used as a literary tool, is second to none, and that Australia is a wonderful country where such things can be said.
Tony Abbott said the Bible is at the core of Australia's civilisation and should be compulsory reading for students. He further reflected that people can read the Bible for its literary merits, without necessarily becoming believers. (www.news.com.au)
There are so many Biblical quotations in common use within our language framework, it would be helpful if more Australians knew the original source.
Such ideas as the 'scape goat' which in the Old Testament where a goat was let loose in the wilderness on Yom Kippur after the high priest symbolically laid the sins of the people on its head. Leviticus 16 verses 8,10, 26. (dictionary.reference.com)
Today, when someone is referred to as the scape goat, that person has taken the rap for something he or she has not done and more than likely unaware that they are the scape goat.
'He knew not Joseph' is another common phrase; often used when a new boss comes into the picture and doesn't know the background of someone who has been of instrumental value in the past.
The Old Testament story is that Joseph had saved Egypt from starvation but as the years went on and a new King arose in Egypt who knew not Joseph; and whatever favours that had been extended to the Children of Israel had long been forgotten. (www.infoplease.com)
There are many of these in the Old Testament. And from the New Testament, we get the 'Prodigal son' and the naming of a traitor as a 'Judas', to name but two of many.
These have helped bind our culture together in its language and unspoken understanding.
Like the beach dawn, clarifying
Freedom of speech allows stupidity and bigotry
When Tony Abbott made those comments prior to becoming Australia's Prime Minister there was plenty of criticism from the Australian Islamic community. For example, Arron Langmaid, writing for 'Adelaide Now' (see the reference above), Mr Abbott's remarks were "over the top".
What I say to such astonishing comments is that Australia is such a remarkable place where someone from a minority religion (2011 Census, Islamic-Muslim 2.8% - less than those who attend Baptist Churches) is able to make such a quite stupid comment and get it published in major media.
As Australia's Attorney General George Brandis recently stated in Parliament, that freedom of speech allows bigotry. Yet how many Islamic dominated countries are there, where to make such a comment about the Koran would see you incarcerated and quite possibly a whole lot worse.
It's a bit late after the Eclipse
King James Bible
The King James 1611 version of the Bible has had an immeasurable contribution to modern civilisation of English speaking nations, including Australia. This is undisputed. Tony Abbott prior to becoming Prime Minister said it should be taught in schools as a literary tool but has not as yet graced this subject since taking up the nation's top job.
At the time of his comments, The Letters of the Editors' columns across the nation saw huge numbers of people concur, while others acknowledged the Bible's huge contribution but were not as certain that it needed to be taught based on its literary value.
Australia's freedoms of both religion and speech are fundamental to our society. This is the basis of the Government making changes to the law in relation to this which I have written on previously. (au.christiantoday.com)
It is a delight to be able to acknowledge the wisdom and lyricism of the King James version of the Bible as part of our wonderful heritage and that Shakespeare's utterances followed suit such as this biblical line: "Love is not with the eyes but with the mind".
Certainly one way forward, as Tony Abbott said, that to educate this new generation is to have the Bible taught in schools as a literary tool. They just might glean something of more significance for themselves.
Like tracks to the ocean
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html